To start our day, I ask students to do a 5-minute quick write to answer the question, is Grant a "man" so far in the novel? They have already addressed this question for chapters 1 and 2, so I ask them to focus on their homework due today, chapter 3. After 5 minutes of writing, I begin calling on students to share their observations.
Students note that in chapter 3, Grant must "play the fool." He cannot speak as the educated man he is, and he must enter through the back door of the house. He must also avoid eye contact when speaking to the white characters. For these reasons, which are out of Grant's control and a result of the culture in which he lived, Grant cannot act the man, no matter how he feels inside.
This activity serves two purposes: first, it gets students focused on the subject for the day (manhood again), and second, it shows me who read (and who didn't). I can have quiet follow-up conversations to encourage reading with the students not yet engaged in the book.
In our previous lesson, students worked in groups to analyze manhood in modern society and in the start of the novel. Today, they will present their work. Because the end of the year is quickly approaching (and students' final exam is a presentation of their growth in the course), we have often talked about presentation skills of late--eye contact, appropriate volume, shifts in tone to maintain engagement, and, of course, good content, including a clear claim and relevant evidence. For these manhood presentations, I ask students to be especially conscious of how they present; their peers and I will be giving them feedback to help them prepare for the exam. That said, I give students 5 minutes to meet up with their groups and practice their presentations.
When 5 minutes have passed, we start with volunteers to blaze the trail. As the first group takes the "stage" (my drama-teacher term for the front of the class), I remind the audience to be watching for presentation skill feedback; I'll call on them to respond after each presentation. The first group presents, and I call on students to give feedback. Some are stumped and struggle to go beyond, "Good job!" I prompt them with questions, such as, "Describe the eye contact" or "Did they have enough support?" Then responses become stronger. As each group presents, we hear better feedback:
"I liked how you used humor to keep us interested."
"I don't see any support for your claim about nagging men."
"Your example women were easily recognizable."
I praise good feedback when I hear it and, of course, offer my own to each group. The presentations' content was also quite interesting:
As already noted on the daily agenda and then announced at the end of class, students are to read chapters 4-5 for homework.